Travel Agent recently attended Signature Travel Network’s annual sales meeting in Las Vegas – here’s a quick rundown on the major developments at the event.
Pictured on the right: Alex Sharpe, President, Signature Travel Network, Michelle Morgan Tribute
New Preferred Suppliers
Signature debuted 75 new partnerships at the tradeshow, including five new tour operators, ten new destination specialists and over sixty new hotels. Major new additions include active and adventure specialists Backroads and G Adventures. In Signature’s recent “State of the Market” survey, the company identified the active and adventure segment as a major opportunity for growth.
“As we add new preferred suppliers and existing partners continue to expand their portfolios, we have increased the presence of active and adventure experiences in our publications and online content. It has also allowed us to expand our destination partnerships well known for unique outdoor experiences, such as Australia, Peru, Hawaii, and Africa, just to name a few,” said Heidi Podjavorsek, Director, Sales & Marketing - Destination Partnerships.
Expanded Hotel and Resorts Program
At the show Signature also announced the next phase of expansion of its hotel and resort program. For 2014, the collection add over 60 new hotels and resorts, bringing the total number of properties to 803 hotels in 450 destinations.
Notable city hotel additions include: Capella Georgetown in Washington, D.C.; St. Regis Abu Dhabi; Hassler Roma; Palace Hotel Tokyo; Corinthia Hotel London; De L’Europe Amsterdam; Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul; Langham Place, Fifth Avenue, New York, NY; Gran Melia Madrid; Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in Panama City, Panama; King David Hotel Jerusalem; Twelve at Hengshan, Shanghai; Londra Palace Hotel Venice; Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle, WA; and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kyoto, Japan.
Signature also continued its focus on expanding its adventure segment with the addition of several new properties aimed at active travelers, including Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, and Titilaka in Peru; the Galapagos Safari Camp in Ecuador; and a number of unique lodges and camps in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, all managed by Wilderness Safaris.
Other new resorts include Nizuc Resort and Spa in Mexico; Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa in Nicaragua; Cap D'Antibes Beach Resort in France; Canaves Oia Hotel & Suites in Santorini; Kivotos Resort in Mykonos; Azura Resort in Mozambique; the Ritz-Carlton Aruba; the new Andaz resorts in Maui and Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica.
All participating hotels offer breakfast for two daily and a special Signature benefit, such as one lunch/dinner for two during stay, a complimentary round of golf, spa treatments, airport transfers, $100 resort credit, or other amenity. The 2014 Hotel & Resort directory will be released on December 6.
Sales Tips: Targeting Millennials
During the show we got a chance to sit in on a panel titled “Selling Travel to the Millennial Generation” with two of the winners of our recent 30Under30 feature, Katelyn O’Shaughnessy of TravelStore and Ahna Hall of Kahala Travel. They offered insights into selling travel to millennials, including the size of the market, digital marketing and branding. The other panelists were Gary Goeldner of Travel2 and Steve Lima of G Adventures. Paul Wiseman of Trafalgar was the moderator.
Signature’s Young Advisors
Signature also took the opportunity to reach out to younger generations with the introduction of its Young Advisors Community (YAC). Exclusive to Signature members, the YAC is a network of young travel agents under the age of 40. The YAC offered special networking events and receptions throughout the conference.
“Instead of focusing on the organization, Signature focuses on its members; and the members’ desire and demand for a program for the up-and-coming travel generation inspired the Young Advisors Community,” said Signature President Alex Sharpe. “Signature’s priority is to provide tools and services, including training opportunities that address the needs of a diverse array of members, advisors and business models. With the development of the Young Advisors Community, we want to create a space for young members to cultivate relationships with other travel professionals and to provide training, best practices, and career development within the travel industry.”